When you think about a golfer like Phil Mickelson, rarely do you look at him and say, “he just can’t figure this course out.” Unfortunately for Mickelson, though, the Old White TPC at The Greenbrier Classic has been that kind of place, and barring some kind of miracle, Lefty will be heading home early from West Virginia.
Mickelson has made the trip to White Sulphur Springs each of the last three years, and he’s left disappointed every time. In 2011, the tournament’s second year on the PGA Tour schedule, he posted three-over-par to miss the cut, and his one-stroke improvement in 2012 wasn’t any better.
Things looked bleak almost from the beginning for Mickelson this year, as he opened on Thursday with a four-over round of 74. A full 12 strokes back of leaders Johnson Wagner and Tommy Gainey, certainly Friday couldn’t have been any worse, and maybe that took some of the pressure off. As a matter of fact, he got back to even par after his first nine in the second round, but missed some key putts to give most of the hard-earned strokes right back.
Still, the round of two-under-par 68 was Mickelson’s first sub-par round at this event, and he seemed to at least know what was doing him in. In post-round interviews, he stated that he couldn’t get his irons under control at elevation, and that led to some bigger misses than normal.
“I’ve posed over a lot of iron shots today and they end up not just a yard or two off from where I figure, but they’re 10 or 12 yards off from where I figure,” Mickelson said. “I think as I look back on these last three years, that’s been the biggest issue for me is distance control with the irons.”
Phil has played well at elevation before, winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale earlier this season, but for some reason he just hasn’t dialed it in here.
Perhaps the extra practice and rest this holiday weekend will serve Mickelson well. He’ll be playing across the pond in next week’s Scottish Open in preparation for The Open Championship. That particular major has never been suited well for his game, but you know he’ll be laser focused after yet another U.S. Open disappointment this year.